Clumsy yet graceful, odd-looking yet beautiful–thus we describe the Anhinga. A warm-habitat water bird, sometimes called the “Water Turkey” or “Snake Bird”, these large birds hunt prey by gliding beneath the surface of the water. There they pursue small fish– weaving their way through tangled vegetation and spearing them with large, sharp bills. Their black and silver feathers do not have water-proofing like a duck or goose, so the Anhinga must climb from the water’s edge, find a suitable perch and open their wings to dry. Although clumsy on land they are superb long-distance flyers and are often seen soaring high in the sky in large flocks. Their preferred method of long-distance flight is gliding, and, with wing spans of almost four feet, they soar overhead on thermals, much the way turkey vultures do. This male appears oily-black as he climbs from a Florida Everglades backwater pool. As he dries off, however, his true colors are revealed and he is stunning. Such is the Anhinga- a bird of contradictions.

Music: “Memories” PacDV

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